[June 23, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Borki Predojević:
Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Rubinstein Variation (Russian Gambit, etc.)

[Line 082 : 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 dxc4 4. e3 e6 5. Bxc4 c5 6. O-O]

In the initial positon of this opening line Black almost exclusively plays 6… a6, where White has three very popular options: 7. Bb3 (Line 085), 7. dxc5 (Line 084), and 7. a4 (Line 083). However, it’s the other possibilities for White, such as 7. Bd3, 7. Qe2, 7. Nc3, and 7. e4, that can be found here.

By playing 7. Bd3 White prepares to meet the topical 7… b5 with 8. a4, weakening the Black’s kingside. For that reason, Black usually opts for 7… Nbd7, followed by b7-b6, or 7… cxd4 8. exd4 Be7, with even chances.

In case of 7. Qe2 a straightforward 7… b5 8. Bb3 Bb7 works fine for Black.

Black also gets sufficient counterplay after 7. Nc3 b5 8. Be2 Nbd7, while against the Russian Gambit (7. e4) Black can either accept it 7… Nxe4, or choose a more quiet 7… b5 8. Bd3 Bb7.

[Diagram: White to Move] White Queen is ready to create threats against the black King, but his position still appears reasonably safe. What would you play as White?

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[June 22, 2017] Updated Opening Line from Dragan Paunović:
Sicilian Defense, Paulsen Variation – Polugaevsky Variation

[Line 447 : 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Bc5]

This update is a small tribute to our late colleague GM Dragan Paunović. In memory of our dear friend, our Editorial Board will continue updating his lines and articles.

The most common continuation from the initial position is 6. Nb3, while alternatives, such as 6. c3, don’t seem as promising. The position arising after 6. Nb3 Be7 is examined in our Line 448, while another popular choice 6… Ba7 is covered in this line. White has two promising options here.

The positional 7. Qe2, followed by Be3, O-O, and later c2-c4, Nc3, gives White slightly better prospects due to a durable space advantage.

A more aggressive approach is 7. Qg4 and after 7… Nf6 White typically opts to place his Queen on an active square with 8. Qg3. White usually proceeds with Nc3, O-O and then either Kh1 and f2-f4, or Bg5, with slight initiative.

[Diagram: White to Move] T. Dvorak – T. Helis, Rybnik 2009. Black is undeveloped and his Queen could soon become endangered. What would you propose for White?

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[June 21, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Bojan Vučković:
King’s Indian Defense, Larsen Variation & Other Sidelines after 5. Nf3

[Line 157 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3]

In the initial position of our Line 157 Black usually plays 5… O-O  where the main move 6. Be2 is covered in Lines 158-169.

Larsen Variation (5. Be3) is rarely employed nowadays, since Black gets a comfortable position after 5… e5 6. dxe5 dxe5 7. Qxd8 Rxd8.

Much more common option is 5. h3, where Black has many possibilities – among them 6… e5, 6… Na6, and 6… c5 are the most popular. Move 6… e5 is probably the best practical choice, where after 7. dxe5 dxe5 8. Qxd8 Rxd8 Black gets comfortable play. White usually opts for 7. d5, and here as alternatives to 7… Nh5 Black has 7… a5 and 7… Na6. The critical position arises after 7… Nh5 8. g3, where both 8… f5 and 8… Na6 provide Black with sufficient counterchances.

[Diagram: White to Move] D. Navara – L. Muhammad, Pardubice (rapid) 2014. White pieces are pressing the black King, but it still appears that Black is holding on. How should White proceed with the attack to gain an overwhelming advantage?

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[June 19, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Dragan Barlov:
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Semi-Slav Defense, Moscow Variation (incl. Hastings Variation)

[Line 272 : 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bxf6]

After the exclusive reply 6… Qxf6 comes a first big branching for the players of White.

The idea of the Hastings Variation (7. Qb3) is to protect the c4-pawn and control the b4-square, while preparing 8. e4 where Black would not be able to play Bb4+ after 8… dxe4 9. Nxe4. Black has several good replies: 7… Nd7, 7… dxc4, and 7… a5, all of them leading to positions with roughly even chances.

Another popular option is 7. Qc2, where both 7… Nd7 and 7… dxc4 are perfectly fine for Black.

Move 7. g3 leads to a gambit line after Black takes the c4-pawn, for instance: 7. g3 Nd7 8. Bg2 dxc4 9. O-O Be7 10. e3, with compensation.

The main move is 7. e3 where 7… g6 is a decent alternative to the more common 7… Nd7. Line 273 deals with positions arising after 7… Nd7 8. Bd3, while other possibilities for White on the 8th move, such as 8. Qc2, 8. Rc1 and 8. a3, are covered here.

[Diagram: White to Move] White has already sacrificed the Rook, but he still needs to find that finishing blow against the Black King. Any thoughts?

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[June 18, 2017] Dusted Off: Opening Survey by GM Slaviša Brenjo
Torre Attack, The London System with 7… Qb6

The 5th Norway Chess was a treat for all chess fans, but Magnus Carlsen probably wants to forget his performance as soon as possible, and the same probably applies to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. While their encounter will probably never appear in any post-tournament discussions, the opening setup
employed by the World Champion is actually quite a tricky one and Black has to handle it with great care and attention to details. To make things more complicated, computer engines typically don’t evaluate these positions particularly well at average depths, which only creates additional problems during the analysis.

[Diagram: White to Move] White is a rook down, so it’s high time to enter survival mode. Help!

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[June 17, 2017] Updated Opening Line by Trajko Nedev:
Scotch Game, Mieses Variation with 8… Ba6

[Line 360 : 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nxc6 bxc6 6. e5 Qe7 7. Qe2 Nd5 8. c4 Ba6]

Move 9. Nd2 has gained a lot of attention in the recent couple of years. The best way for Black to respond is either 9… O-O-O 10. b3 f6 or 9… g6 10. Nf3 Qb4. In both of these cases Black should obtain even chances without difficulties, while alternatives 9… Nb6 and 9… Nb4 lead to positions that are generally more promising for White.

The old move 9. b3 is not very popular nowadays since Black has a couple of ways to get pleasant positions. The most natural reply is 9… g6, where White usually continues with 10. f4, 10. g3 or 10. Ba3. Moves 9… g5 and 9… O-O-O are equally fine for Black, while 9… Qh4 and 9… f6, although playable, are easier to handle with white pieces.

[Diagram: White to Move] P. Hultquist – J. Staal, corr 1972. Black’s extra pawn is a poor consolation for a very bad piece development. How should White proceed to get a decisive advantage?

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